TBR Thursday 20…

Episode 20 – The People’s Choice


The TBR pile continues to shrink – 95! Woo-hoo! But it’s had the unfortunate side-effect that I’m no longer capable of deciding amongst the tempting treats the blogosphere continues to offer. So, for a change, I’m turning the choice – and the responsibility – over to you. Are you up to the challenge? Here’s my shortlist – which one do you think deserves a coveted slot on my TBR? The winner will be announced next Thursday…

With my usual grateful thanks to all the reviewers who’ve intrigued and inspired me over the last few weeks, here are:

The Contenders…


sleep tightThe BlurbWhen Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning. But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table.
The police want to issue a national appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.

And then they find the blood…

Cleo says: “This book contains everything that a good psychological thriller should; there is a great puzzle to be solved, an uncertainty about which characters can be believed as Olivia and Robert explain some of their actions the result being that some of what I read literally gave me goose bumps as I couldn’t help but imagine myself in Olivia’s shoes. Be warned some of the scenes in this book will make your heart race!

See the full review at Cleopatra Loves Books


a calamitous chinese killingThe Blurb – Inspector Singh’s expertise is required in China in his sixth adventure, as he battles political intrigue to get to the bottom of a very murky and complex crime Inspector Singh is on a mission to China, against his better judgment. The son of a bigwig at the Singapore Embassy has been bludgeoned to death in a back alley in Beijing. The Chinese security insist that he was the victim of a robbery gone wrong, but the young man’s mother demands that Singapore’s finest (in his own opinion) rides to the rescue. But solving a murder in a country that practices socialism “with Chinese characteristics” is a dangerous business, and it soon becomes apparent that getting to the bottom of this calamitous killing will be his toughest case yet.

Margot saysIn Beijing, Inspector Singh is an obvious foreigner. Through his eyes we get a look at the blend of ancient tradition, modern Chinese-style capitalism and some Maoist traditions too that contribute to Chinese culture. There’s also a hefty dose of pragmatism too, as ‘regular’ Chinese people manage their lives. And since Singh is not Chinese, and doesn’t speak that language, he’s a bit out of his element. And that adds a layer of tension to the story.

See the full review at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist


ethan fromeThe BlurbEthan Frome works his unproductive farm and struggles to maintain a bearable existence with his difficult, suspicious, and hypochondriac wife, Zeenie. But when Zeenie’s vivacious cousin enters their household as a “hired girl”, Ethan finds himself obsessed with her and with the possibilities for happiness she comes to represent. In one of American fiction’s finest and most intense narratives, Edith Wharton moves this ill-starred trio toward their tragic destinies. Different in both tone and theme from Wharton’s other works, Ethan Frome has become perhaps her most enduring and most widely read novel.

Margaret says: “even though Ethan Frome is a tragedy there is light to contrast the darkness, and there is love and hope set against repression and misery. It’s another book (like The Grass is Singing) where I hoped the ending would be a happy one, although I knew it couldn’t be. It’s a short book (just over 120 pages) and deceptively simple to read, but there is so much packed into it. I enjoyed it very much.

See the full review at Books Please


don't look backThe BlurbThe setting is a small, idyllic village at the foot of Norway’s Kollen Mountain, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town’s tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong? Doggedly, yet subtly, Inspector Sejer uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the town’s seemingly perfect facade.

Rebecca says: Despite the sadness of the story, Sejer himself doesn’t seem overly gloomy, which is appealing in a protagonist. He feels empathy for the people he interviews not only because they were touched by the crimes at the center of the novel but because of their lives together in their small town. I’m glad I have several more novels in the series to get to soon.”

See the full review at Ms. Wordopolis Reads


search partyThe BlurbIn the epigraph to this volume, Penelope Fitzgerald tells us: If a story begins with finding, it must end with searching,” and so we discover each story here to follow the arc of a search, just as each also contains a rescue. What is immediately apparent is that it will be impossible to guess the form this rescue will take or even who it is who’ll require it. Instead, the astonishingly talented Valerie Trueblood has imbued each story with its own depth and mystery, so rescue comes as a surprise to the reader, who is in intimate sympathy for the soul in extremity.

Kelly says:“The Magic Pebble” and “The Stabbed Boy” just about broke my heart with their bits of tragedy; “The Blue Grotto,” a tale of a babysitter whose overnight charge has a 105-degree fever and requires a trip to the ER, terrified me; “Later or Never” (about a caretaker) and “Street of Dreams” (about a father shepherding his homeless family) were poignant vignettes; and the opening of “Who Is He That Will Harm You” reveals its events, little by little, until the full scene pops startlingly into your mind’s eye.

See the full review at You Can Read Me Anything


NB All blurbs are taken from Goodreads.

So…which should I read? Choose just one or as many as you like – the book with most votes will be this week’s winner…

Hope you pick a good one! 😉

51 thoughts on “TBR Thursday 20…

  1. FictionFan – Oh, thank you for the kind mention! I do hope you’ll get the chance to read some of Flint’s work. I think it’s quite good. You have some excellent other contenders too, in particular the Fossum, which I thought was very well. Well, I’m sure your loyal fans will guide you in the right direction. 🙂


  2. I’m on the Wharton. If you’re thinking of adding to the pile, I recommend for consideration Brewster, by Mark Slouka, or At Night We Walk in Circles, by Daniel Alarcon. I’ve reviewed both on Amazon if you’re interested, and Roger Brunyate has done a wonderful review of the latter there as well.

    I look forward to your thoughts on McMurtry. I’ve not read any of them, but have been kicking myself a long while about that.


    • Wharton is storming away to an early lead…

      Thanks for the recs – I’ll pop over to Amazon later and check out your and Roger’s reviews. My poor TBR list! 😉

      Yes, looking forward to it – along with most of the rest of the GAN list. There’s only a couple on there the thought of which make me shudder a bit, but then, they may turn out to be the ones I enjoy most…


  3. I read Ethan Frome when I was way too young. I can’t recall anything about it, not even sure if I liked it or not. Sad. I’m going to read it again some day. So I’m going to suggest you read and review that one. 😀 Although Sleep Tight sounds tantalizing. 😀


    • Haha! Well, Wharton’s gone into an early lead so you may well have your wish! But Sleep Tight does sound good too…I’m enjoying not having to make a decision. You all get the blame this time if it goes horribly wrong… 😉


  4. Now if Margaret can’t vote for Ethan, I can. Cmon, it’s short, and the construction will be elegant and subtle. I can feel the carefully constructed sentences opening out nicely.

    And, surely, its out of copyright and available for freebie download onto e Reader.

    I’m currently reading an uncomfortable choice for me, not my usual fare, James Lee Burke, which I do, from time to time, against an overly optimistic rose-tintedness, and the idea of more subtle moral ambiguity, without dismembered corpses, appeals hugely!


    • It is indeed a freebie (and short is A Good Thing!), and currently storming ahead in the polls…it’s exciting, knowing my fate is in your hands… I thought you might vote for Kelly’s choice though, after her success in converting us both to Aimee Bender.

      Yes, it’s good to try something a bit different from time to time, even if all it does in the end is remind us why we like our normal fare. But sometimes the unexpected ones turn out to be the greatest treats…


      • oh………..I didn’t connect/remember that Aimee Bender came from Kelly. Will investigate her choice, though stick with Ethan (now downloaded, as is a new request from NetGalley and a bought book from Michele Paver on the strength of Dark Matter (though very different) Kindle TBR 91, real book TBR’s don’t even ask


        • We could start up a factory-line: I shortlist the books, you buy and read and review them, I…relax and put my feet up, while shortlisting the next batch! 😉


      • PS – just checked back and I did indeed hesitate long and hard between Ethan and Kelly’s choice, as i like Penelope Fitzgerald VERY much – Human Voices a marvellous book, and i think i might need to re-read her……….


        • Of course, Penelope Fitzgerald might be doing a Hilary Mantel or a Kate Atkinson – I’m less and less convinced by one author’s praise of another. I must say the blurb for Search Party is so badly written it would have put me off the book completely – Kelly’s endorsement is the only thing that convinced me it might be worth reading.


          • Good point – perhaps I wrongly hope that providing a writer hasn’t YET disappointed me by puffing a book I hated (goodbye, Atkinson and Mantel departing QUICKly from my to be trusted list!) they aren’t GOING to disappoint me


            • I’m sure some of them must be too honest to do it, and often they’re probably just ‘shilling’ for a friend but…the problem is it doesn’t just put me off the books they puff, it kind of puts me off the authors who do the puffing too, a bit. And makes me mistrust ones who might well really believe it when they claim such-and-such a book is the best thing since the printing press was invented…


            • I know. I’m getting to the stage where I only believe bloggers who read a lot. Sure I might disagree with their opinions, because in the end it seems to me that we have a very subjective experience, resonating or not with the writer’s voice, but at least there is no other agenda such as quid pro quo going on. I no longer trust Amazon reviews without much investigation because of the 5 star single review shills – or conversely the obvious 1 star dumps by an obvious subject rival. Not to mention how the whole abused rankings can inhibit honest bleurghh responses through fear of the author fan club backlash

              But yes I do like you start to distrust the author who puffs the best since sliced bread response over a load of sad crumbs!


            • I really only look at negative Az reviews now – to see what people didn’t like about something. If it’s something that’ll also bother me – excess violence, over the top swearing etc – then I know to give it a miss. But for positive reviews I look either to the blogosphere or to Amazon reviewers I know. Obviously I won’t always agree with them, but it increases the chances.

              By the way, Roger was trying to interest me in a book that I felt was far more your style than mine (I think he still gets us confused…) so I said I’d point you in his direction – here’s the link to his review… http://www.amazon.com/Coincidence-Novel-J-W-Ironmonger/product-reviews/0062309897


  5. PS – so you are now reading The Quick. Heh heh, have you got to the point where you hurl the book across the room and stamp on it crossly yet (note for ereading – SHOUT at your Kindle as hurling and stamping are ill advised!)


    • Haha! I’ve temporarily stopped to read Gordon Ferris’ new one – but I think I might have just passed the point in question (trying to avoid spoilers) are we talking about the scene that took place just outside Oscar Wilde’s house? If so, I must admit I was kind of expecting it from the blurb burbling about horror and the brother being pale and sweaty etc… So far I’m quite enjoying it…but I stopped just after that scene so we’ll see what happens once I resume…


  6. I’d vote for Sleep Tight. I think I will have to look for that one, myself. Like I need more books to read. I’ve gotten a few stinkers lately, so Sleep Tight is appealing.


  7. I like the look of the Inspector Singh. I read ” Ethan Frome ” years ago, and I’m sure you would like it.


    • Sadly, I think I’d like them all! Yes, the Inspector Singh appelas to me too, especially the Chinese setting, but then so does the Etha Frome…and Sleep Tight…


  8. I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned, but I’ve read some reviews of Sleep Tight and I thought I’d want to read it some day. These books seem like great reads. I’m going to check them out soon.


    • Thanks for visiting and commenting! I hope you enjoy Sleep Tight if you get around to reading it – I’m pretty sure it’ll sneak onto my TBR even if it doesn’t win the poll… 🙂


  9. This is a wonderful idea! (Thanks for featuring one of my reviews.) To be honest, I didn’t even vote for my own…one of the others sounded too interesting to resist! 🙂


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